At the beginning of September, former Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly received a PTO with the Calgary Flames. While he attended BioSteel Camp in Toronto around the time of the agreement, he opted not to speak to the media. On Tuesday, he broke his silence for the first time ahead of the Flames’ Training Camp, discussing his decision to sign the PTO and take his talents to the Pacific Division. He also spoke about what went wrong in Washington.
“They showed interest from the start,” Smith-Pelly said to TSN reporters about why he felt Calgary was the right place for him. “Obviously, would have loved to get a contract coming into camp but they’ve got some other things they’ve got to deal with contract-wise. I looked at the lineup and where I saw myself fitting in, and thought this would be a good spot to compete for a chance to play.”
Smith-Pelly’s play tends to lean towards the more physical side, which reporters speculated to Smith-Pelly would complement the rest of the lineup, to which the foward agreed and mentioned that it was a discussion he’d had with the organization.
“That’s something that the GM and the coaches, when I talked to them on the phone, said they needed,” Smith-Pelly said. “I think I could bring that, and I’ve shown I can bring that. They seemed to like the way I play and seemed to give me a real fair shot. It’s not just a PTO for a body, it’s actually a good shot at making the team. That’s why I decided to come here.”
Up until now, Smith-Pelly has bounced around teams, going from the Anaheim Ducks, to the Montréal Canadiens, to the New Jersey Devils, and then finally landing with the Capitals. The Flames will be Smith-Pelly’s fifth team in nine seasons, but doesn’t feel that his need to prove something is anything new.
“I think I every year I’ve always had something to prove. I mean, you look at my career and it’s getting traded, doing well, getting traded, doing well. I’ve fought for everything I’ve ever gotten in my career and it’s just me doing it again.”
While Smith-Pelly was in Washington, he played a significant role in the roster that eventually went on to win their first-ever Stanley Cup in franchise history. His game-tying goal in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final will remain an iconic moment, though his season following the Cup win was marred with multiple frustrations. He attended Training Camp out of shape, and later placed on waivers and sent to the Capitals’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears. Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan was open to re-signing DSP under certain conditions, but it was not meant to be.
“It’s a fresh start. Obviously, things in DC were great, and then last season was tough,” Smith-Pelly admitted. “We can talk about what happened the summer before, and all that stuff, but I’ve kind of put it past me and I’ve worked really hard this summer. Just tried to look forward and focus on trying to make this team.”
He also opened up about that difficult summer following the Capitals’ Cup win and how he struggled to ramp back up before the season started.
“You give everything you have for that long and then you win. You celebrate for however long you celebrate, and then you’re emotionally and physically just drained. Take a little break and next thing you know it’s August, and you’ve got to try and ramp it up again,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s an excuse or not, but it’s hard. It’s hard to ramp it back up after doing something for that long, and literally giving it your all. And then it’s done and it paid off, you can finally breathe, it’s tough to get back on. I don’t really have any regrets about that. We won the Cup. We all enjoyed it. I gave it all I had and the next year it didn’t work out, but it’s tough. Not a lot of guys go through it, but when guys do they’ll probably tell you the same thing. It’s hard. It’s really, really hard. It’s something I’ll always remember and if it happens again, I’ll know how to approach it a different way. But I’ve moved past that and I’m focusing on what’s happening here now.”
Smith-Pelly remained realistic about his role and what he could bring to the Flames, and it is one that Capitals fans know that he can perform, when given the chance.
“I’ve done my best work when I have a set role on the third or fourth line. I’m pretty self-aware, that’s where I’m going to play. When I have a set goal and a set role, I seem to do pretty well in most spots. That’s obviously what I’m vying for, is helping out the bottom six. Whether it’s the third line, fourth line, whatever it is. Show I’m willing to do whatever I have to do for the team to be successful. It’s not going to change now.”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.